Shelley Grainger, Lead Administrator for Compuware Changepoint for the past 14 years, dedicates much of her free time to her passion for horses.
“When I was growing up, there were 2 girls in our west end Toronto neighborhood who rode and had horses. I was always drawn to life in the country and horses, and took every opportunity to go to their horse shows at the Canadian National Exhibition, in the summer and visit the farm where one friend had her horse,” says Shelley. She enrolled in her first riding lessons at Sunnybrook Stables, in Toronto as an adolescent. “I got away from riding after high school, but decided to get involved again in my 30’s. I part-boarded a couple of horses over the years, and completed the Equine Studies program at Humber College. After that I finally bought my first horse in the 1990’s and have been a horse owner ever since.”
In 2006, Shelley was following the Triple Crown – America’s most prestigious Thoroughbred horse races. The Kentucky Derby winner was a horse named Barbaro. There was a lot of expectation that Barbaro would go on to win the Triple Crown series, as he won all his races by a large margin, including the Derby. He was a beautiful, strong horse and became a popular favourite amongst horse people. The anticipation was high at the next race – The Preakness. Very tragically, Barbaro ran so hard and fast out of the gate that he broke his right-hind ankle, the horse world was devastated. That is when Shelley’s involvement, to help protect horses, began.
“I started following a blog written by an insider within Barbaro’s circle, who provided daily updates on his progress. This blog brought many people together from North America – most of them horse people. Some of the followers were horse welfare advocates in the U.S. They talked about their work to protect horses from going to slaughter for human consumption,” remarks Shelley, “I knew this hidden industry existed, but I didn’t know anything about Canada’s involvement in it.” After some consideration and research, Shelley knew she wanted to get involved in helping horses from this awful fate. “Based on their treatment of horses, some people should not be owners,” she said. For instance, in Canada more than 1,700 horses are killed every week for overseas horse meat markets. Grainger is adamant that this is an unacceptable solution for unwanted horses.
“I found the website for the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition and wrote to their Executive Director in British Columbia. The CHDC was formed in 2004, but was still in its infancy and had no representation in Eastern Canada. I offered to help, and became involved from that day forward,” says Shelley.
The CHDC is still a grass-roots non-profit with a small Board of Directors that take on many tasks, and that responsibility is shared by its cohesive team of professionals who contribute in different ways. Shelley adds, “As a seasoned horse owner, my knowledge of the horse world provided needed insight and my professional career has also contributed to the work I do for the CHDC. Charities and non-profits have to be run like a business – there has to be structure and sound decision-making. I am regularly drawing on my professional capabilities, extensive office and administrative management experience to help organize and expand the group.”
Shelley says, “I feel privileged to have found my calling, for a cause that not only benefits horses but also provides my life with an added sense of purpose.” The CHDC’s mission is to protect horses, but it is also to educate horse owners to the responsibility they take on when they buy, breed or own horses.
“I remind people that horse ownership is a long-term commitment,” she said. “Horses can live up to 30 years. For owners who don’t plan to keep a horse beyond five or even 10 years, they should plan for a safe transition for the animal after their ownership. They should network through people they know in the horse community or with a horse rescue. Otherwise, horses eventually can be sold through rural auctions to horse dealers whose only business is to fill their contracts with the slaughter plants that supply horse meat.”
The danger of horses falling into the hands of horse dealers also means that the industry needs to change its thinking about responsible breeding of the animals.
“It is known in horse circles that some breeders feel they have to breed 20 horses to get one great one,” Grainger said. This means that another horse born may eventually end up at an auction where the only buyer will be a horse dealer. “This ‘disposable’ mentality should no longer be acceptable. There are many wonderful horses available to buy or adopt without becoming responsible for increasing an already adequate horse population.”
It doesn’t stop there for Shelley, “when you’re involved in horse welfare, you’re also part of the animal welfare world. It’s impossible to stay focused on one species. You become aware of the conditions that farm animals face in large scale factory farms. On the other end of the spectrum you become a more responsible pet owner. I have 3 cats from the local pet shelter – I wish I could help more. By being involved in animal welfare, I share a common goal with many people – whether it’s household pets or farm animals – even people and groups that are working to save and protect creatures of the sea and endangered species – we are all protectors of our planet and the animal world.” She added: “I know we all have to have purpose in our lives. I’m very fortunate to have found my cause.”
Shelley along with her colleagues in Richmond Hill, work every year to help raise needed funding for the United Way of York Region (UWYR). United Way does the fundraising so the local agencies can focus their efforts on helping people in the community. Shelley explains, “Working for a non-profit, I know that manpower can be short and the needs can be high. I know this model is successful, and that UWYR does amazing work bringing corporate and individual supporters together to help people and families in our region. I believe strongly in helping the local community where I live. I like to shop locally and help the local business people. I also contribute to the local food bank and animal shelter.”
One of Grainger’s favorite sayings is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”
“To me, that encapsulates what I feel,” she said. “Just because things are the way they are, especially when you know it’s not right, doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be. Work for what you know is right, even if that means trying to create a new way of thinking or a cultural shift.”
To learn more about the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition please visit: http://defendhorsescanada.org/
This is a series of stories about the people we work with and the people we are.
We have all worked with technology for long enough to understand that it takes more than a great product to make a company successful. It’s about a community of people working towards making our customers successful. That same drive/passion isn’t isolated to the office but is reflected in the activities/actions of the Changepoint team in their personal lives.
In our Employee Spotlight Series, we will introduce you to members of the Changepoint team. Since we are a global organization, we will share stories from employees and the interesting ways in which they are applying their talents around the world. We hope that you’ll enjoy these stories and that they give you some insight into the people behind the product.